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18 Sep 2020

9 things you're doing wrong when you iron

Hate doing the ironing? If you're doing any of these things, this could be why it's taking you longer than it should.

With kids going back to school and workers beginning to commute into the office again, many of us will be digging the iron out of the depths of a cupboard to tackle the pile of clothes that's been left to languish all summer.

If you've found yourself faced with crumpled laundry, you may be wondering if there's any way you can make the job easier.

We've rounded up a handful of ways you could be making your time behind the ironing board more difficult without even realising, as well as our top tips for making sure you can blast away creases as quickly as possible.

Need a new iron but not sure what model to go for? Our independent lab tests have done the hard work for you - see our pick of the best steam irons.

1. Using the same temperature for everything

If you're regularly faced with a towering laundry pile you need to get through as quickly as possible, you may be guilty of just powering through it on a medium temperature and hoping for the best.

While that may work in some cases, there's a reason clothes have laundry labels. Whacking the temperature up to full blast is likely going to end in disaster.

Top tip

Always let your iron sit for a few minutes after adjusting the temperature setting to give it time to fully heat up or cool down before you start using it again.

You don't need to spend loads to get a great iron. See our expert round-up of the top five cheap irons.

2. Over-drying your clothes

It's a lot more difficult to eliminate creases if your clothes are bone dry. Hanging them out in the sun or on a heater for too long will leave them stiff and almost crispy in texture, making it nearly impossible to get them wrinkle-free.

Ironing your clothes while they are still slightly damp will make the task at hand a great deal easier, meaning less time behind the ironing board and more time to spend on the things you enjoy.

Top tip

If you iron lots of garments made from thin fabric, such as dress shirts, you can even iron your wet clothes straight out of the washing machine. Just make sure you hang them up as soon as you're done to prevent any creases forming.

Opting for a tumble dryer with a moisture-sense function will take the guesswork out of drying your clothes, meaning you can take them out ready for ironing while they're still a little damp.

Check out our expert pick of the best five cheap tumble dryers to find out which ones won't break your budget.

3. Not cleaning your iron enough

cleaning an iron

Using the right ironing technique is all well and good, but it could be a waste of time if you're not keeping your iron clean enough. Even high-end models build up limescale to some degree, which could begin to leave marks on your clothes if left untreated.

You should make sure you always empty your iron's water tank between uses. Getting into the habit of descaling it on a regular basis is a good idea, too. Check your iron's instruction manual to see if your model has a self-clean function or will require a more hands-on approach.

Top tip

Cleaning your iron little and often is far more effective than waiting until problems start happening. Check out our guide on how to clean an iron for tips and advice on how to avoid mishaps.

4. Ignoring the water spray button

As mentioned above, getting dry clothes to look presentable is tricky at the best of times. Most models will come with a built-in spray function so that you can gently mist your garments at the touch of a button. This makes them easier to iron.

If you opt for an iron that doesn't come with one of these, simply keep a water spray bottle by your ironing board to tackle those particularly stubborn creases.

Top tip

You can also use a starch spray if you want to leave your clothes looking extra fresh. Simply dissolve one tablespoon of cornflour in two cups of water, add to a spray bottle and spray the garment a few seconds before you start ironing. It will keep your soleplate clean too.

5. Putting your clothes on straight away

Once the hard part is done, you need to resist the temptation to immediately put on your freshly ironed outfit and rush off to work.

You need to hang up or fold your clothes for at least five minutes to let the press fully set, leaving you with longer-lasting results and reducing the chances of any rogue creases reappearing halfway through the day.

Top tip

If you want to keep your shirts wrinkle-free for as long as possible, you should hang them up as soon as you've finished ironing them.

Try to avoid wire hangers where possible. Instead, opt for wooden or plastic ones, as the thinness of wire hangers could cause your shirt to pucker around the shoulders over time.

6. Ironing the heaviest fabrics first

Ironing your clothes in a completely random order is time-consuming enough, but if you start on the heaviest fabrics you may find yourself running out of steam sooner than you anticipated.

Taking the time to organise your laundry basket before you start ironing will save you time in the long run, so it's well worth doing. Start with the garments that need to be ironed on a cool setting. You can then work your way up to your sweatshirts and hoodies. And jeans, if you're a super-keen ironer.

This means you can slowly turn up the heat on your iron without waiting around for ages for the temperature to change, so accidentally scorching your favourite shirt will be a thing of the past.

Top tip

A basic rule of thumb is that delicates, synthetics and silk should be ironed at low temperatures, wool on medium, and linens and cotton on high.

We've put together a guide on how to iron different fabrics to help you understand the best ways to tackle each item in your laundry basket.

7. Not turning clothes inside out

To avoid pesky iron marks, you should always try to turn clothes inside out before ironing them. If you're a forward thinker, simply flip garments inside out before you wash them - this will help prevent fading, too.

The excess heat from your iron can also cause your clothes to have a slight sheen if you don't turn them inside out first, which is far from ideal. Protecting the outside of your garments means they will likely last you a little bit longer too.

Top tip

If the item you're ironing isn't inside out and it's difficult to remedy (or you just don't have the time), you can always just cover it with a clean pillowcase before ironing to make sure it doesn't get too much direct heat.

8. Letting large items hang over the sides

It's no use spending ages getting the creases out of your best tablecloth or set of curtains if you're then going to let them hang over the sides of your ironing board to get wrinkled all over again.

To get crisp, long-last results, try setting up a couple of chairs next to your ironing board. This way, once you've finished ironing one section of a large item, you can simply fold it up and place it onto the chairs before moving onto the next one.

Top tip

If you'd rather iron larger items all in one go, you could also tackle them on a large table covered with a towel. Just make sure the towel is thick enough so the heat from your iron won't damage the table.

9. Ironing in circular motions

You should never use circular strokes when ironing as this can stretch out your clothes and ruin the way they fit you - nobody wants a baggy shirt or oversized party dress.

Always try to iron in long strokes either up and down or side to side, as this works better at eliminating creases without stretching out the fibres.

Top tip

Rather than pressing down harder to remove stubborn creases, try using your iron's steam boost feature. Most models have them and they're designed to blast out wrinkles without putting any unnecessary stress on your garments.